Tag:Matt Stairs
Posted on: August 3, 2011 7:14 pm

Stairs to retire after 19 seasons, 13 teams

Matt Stairs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After being released by the Nationals earlier this week, Matt Stairs will retire, he told CBC News on Wednesday.

"I'm not sad. I had a great career, a long career," Stairs said. "And it's one of those things where I can walk away today and not be sad about it."

Stairs, 43, played in parts of 19 seasons for a Major League-record 13 teams -- starting his career with the Expos in 1992 and ending it with the same franchise in a different location in 2011 with the Nationals. He also played for the Red Sox, Athletics, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Phillies and Padres

Stairs mostly played first base, the outfield and DH, but was best as a pinch hitter, holding the record with 23 pinch-hit home runs. He finishes his careers with 265 home runs and a slash line of .262/.356/.477.

As a side note, a year ago in spring training, I went out to dinner with a couple of other baseball writers and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! challenged us to name all of Stairs' teams -- I think the group of six other writers managed to get 12 of the 13 before we gave up. It's a fun game to try with friends.

Anyway, Stairs hit just .154/.257/.169 in 74 plate appearances for Washington this season and was designated for assignment after the Nats acquired Jonny Gomes from the Reds.

A native of Canada, Stairs said he's ready to return to his homeland and spend time with his family. He's also a shoe-in for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame when he is eligible in three years.

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 1:41 pm
Edited on: May 20, 2011 1:42 pm

Who will DH in interleague for NL teams?


By Evan Brunell

Interleague play is upon us, which means that we'll be seeing some players in the National League get more at-bats over the weekend (and later in June, when interleague play really gets going) while AL teams will grouse about losing one of their best bats in NL parks.

“Any time that you get to interleague play and get the opportunities to get the guys some more at-bats is big,” Astros manager Brad Mills told the Houston Chronicle. “Get some guys some playing time and to have [Carlos Lee] DH is really nice for when we start playing National League games again and having those guys have at-bats under their belt.”

It's pretty easy to figure out which players in the American League will lose playing time -- just look at whose been DHing the most all season and go from there. The NL, though, is a different story, who now have to fit someone from the bench into the starting lineup. Looking at just this weekend only, which players stand to benefit from interleague play?

Cubs vs. Red Sox
: Alfonso Soriano (pictured) is a man without a position, even though he'll go down in history with well over 700 games in left field to his name once he retires. But for the next three days, DH will be his home. Soriano still doesn't have an OBP over .300, but his power stroke is still going with 11 bombs so far. Tyler Colvin was recently demoted, so he won't get the playing time in left, so that job will fall to both Reed Johnson and Tony Campana. Johnson will absolutely be in the lineup Friday against a lefty, but with right-handers going the next two days, Campana could earn his first two starts of the season. Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt could also figure into the equation.

Nationals vs. Orioles: Bank on Matt Stairs DHing, as manager Jim Riggleman termed him the "leading candidate" to the Washington Post. The pinch-hitting extraordinaire has just 21 at-bats on the year with two hits, but regular at-bats could get him going. Other contenders include Mike Morse, who has lost a lot of at-bats in left field to Laynce Nix lately, so this would represent an opportunity to get Morse going.

Reds vs. Indians: Jonny Gomes, despite recently being pushed into a three-way platoon, is the favorite to DH all three games in Cleveland. Gomes has been the DH in 16 of the last 18 interleague matchups for the Reds and will assume that position again in Cleveland which frees up left for Chris Heisey; Fred Lewis will likely also grab some at-bats.

Mets vs. Yankees
: Manager Terry Collins says that Fernando Martinez will DH the first two games with Carlos Beltran going on Sunday to take some pressure off his creaky knees, the New York Post writes. The Mets didn't want to call up F-Mart so he could get regular at-bats in the minors, but were forced into the move earlier. This will allow the Mets some type of justification for the move by getting Martinez into a game.

Astros vs. Blue Jays: As Mills alluded to, Carlos Lee will be the DH in Toronto, with Brian Bogusevic and Jason Michaels picking up outfield starts as a result. Anytime the Astros get Lee out of the field, they become a much better club. Granted, that still leaves them in bad shape. Lee is hitting .245/.274/.390 in 168 plate appearances in his second straight year of struggling. There's only one year left on his deal, which the 'Stros can't wait for to end. He notched his 2,006th hit last Saturday.

Dodgers vs. White Sox: The Dodgers will probably go with Jay Gibbons, as he's been working his way into more and more playing time in left. With the DH around, though, Gibbons should slide over to make room for Tony Gwynn, Jr.'s move into left field. Gibbons hasn't really gotten going yet, and this weekend series will be a great way for him to focus on just hitting while L.A. doesn't have to worry about sacrificing defense.

Cardinals vs. Royals: The Cardinals get some fortuitous timing of interleague as both Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday are hobbled due to injury. Only one can DH, but it will still get one of the two best bats on the team in the lineup. Bet on Holliday, who had a sore left leg. Berkman's injury is a bit more severe, with a right wrist sprain that limits his ability to swing a bat. John Jay, who earned starting time last season, has found the going much tougher this year, collecting just 78 at-bats despite appearing in 48 games. Jay tends to enter games as a defensive replacement, but has received four consecutive starts because of current or previous injuries to Holliday, Berkman and Colby Rasmus.  He's at .302/.397/.460 on the year.

Braves vs. Angels: To no surprise, Chipper Jones will receive a respite from his balky knees over the next two games as he recovers from a slight meniscus tear that could eventually require surgery. He'll play third on Sunday, though, which will open up DH for someone else. The guess here is the injury-prone Jason Heyward draws a start at DH, with Joe Mather or Eric Hinske patrolling the outfield as a result.

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Posted on: May 5, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: May 5, 2011 1:20 pm

Pepper: Doc the finisher

By Matt Snyder

FINISH HIM: Roy Halladay is an old-school pitcher in more ways than one, but we'll just concentrate on the complete games for today. He toes the slab each day expecting to finish the job he started. And he does it with rare frequency in this day and age of obsessive pitch counts and situational relievers. As I noted on Baseball Today -- which you should have already viewed above -- Halladay is such a complete game machine that he has more since 2003 than all but six major-league teams. Of course, the Blue Jays lead the majors in that span due to the 44 Halladay provided them (of 77 total) and the Phillies 56 in that span, just one more than Halladay -- who has provided the Phillies with 11 thus far. He's great in so many ways, but Halladay's ability to complete games unlike any other single pitcher this generation is what truly sets him apart. (MLB.com )

NAME THAT TEAM: The Reds have a new Double-A affiliate coming to Pensacola, Florida. The team name is being chosen through a voting process with the fans. They have narrowed the field to six finalists now: Aviators, Blue Wahoos, Loggerheads, Mullets, Redbones and Salty Dogs. Mullets? Really, Pensacola citizens? I like creative names, but making a joke won't be funny for much longer than a few days. I love the other five choices, actually. Which means Mullets will win. (PNJ.com )

HELTON TIES GEHRIG: Todd Helton ripped a double Wednesday night, which was No. 534 of his career. It tied him with the great Lou Gehrig for 31st on the all-time list.

"It's an honor to be mentioned at any level with a guy like that," Helton said. "That's a lot of doubles. I always considered myself a gap-to-gap hitter, and that's the way you get doubles. "More important, there were two guys on, and they turned out to be pretty big runs." (MLB.com )

GROUND RULES: Not one, but two games were affected by a batted ball being lodged between the outfield wall and the ground Wednesday night. In Tampa Bay, it was off the bat of Evan Longoria. Had Juan Rivera left the ball there and gotten a ground-rule double ruling, the Jays wouldn't have clipped Johnny Damon at home as he was trying to score from first. The Blue Jays ended up winning by one, too. On the other hand, in the same situation in Kansas City, Orioles' center fielder Adam Jones left a ball lodged in the base of the wall and let the umpire make the call while Mike Aviles raced around the bases for a would-be inside-the-park home run. The umpire called it a ground-rule double and Aviles was eventually stranded as the Orioles won by one run. Particularly disturbing was how easily Jones pulled the ball from the wall after the umpire made the call. It was stuck, only lodged. I don't want to make outfielders sift through obstructions in the outfield, but they shouldn't be able to gain an advantage for their team by refusing to touch a ball that slightly lodges in the wall. Please note, I'm not blaming Jones. It was smart because he knew what would be called. The rule is the issue. (MLB.com )

SIGN LANGUAGE: Mets catcher Josh Thole has a dog that was discovered to be deaf. Along with his wife, Thole has taught the dog to understand sign language and has since made many friends in the animal-care community. (New York Daily News )

SOON TO BE GATHERING DUST: Raise your hand if you're interested in reading John Rocker's "memoirs." Yeah, apparently his book, which he's shockingly having to self-publish, is due out in June. It's called "Scars and Strikes." It's reportedly a mixture of politics and sports. That's good. I always felt he needed to talk more about his political views, because it's paramount we learn what he thinks as soon as is humanly possible. I don't even know how we've survived the past few years without hearing much from him. (AJC.com )

THERE'S A STAT FOR EVERYTHING: In case you don't believe me, cloudy skies benefit hitters while wide-open blue skies benefit pitchers. Seriously. "Brighter conditions may result in increased eye strain for a batter and a higher level of glare in a ballpark," a meteorological study found. (OC Register )

CENTURY MARK FOR STAIRS: Matt Stairs has been around long enough to collect 100 pinch hits. (Washington Post ) The longevity is probably more impressive, though. Stairs has played for 12 teams in 19 seasons. He's actually been a pretty good hitter for much of that journeyman career. His triple slash line (Average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage) is .263/.357/.480. That gives him an OPS-plus of 118.

THROWBACKS: The Dodgers and Cubs played a game in some really nice throwback uniforms Wednesday. Here is a post that tells you far too much about the uniforms. (Uniwatchblog.com )

TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE: It's no secret Mike Stanton has some serious power. Consider Mark McGwire impressed after having seen Stanton up close. "Power hitters are born. He's just a born home run hitter," McGwire said after noting that Stanton is so talented he can play for "the next 25 years if he likes." High praise from a former basher himself (and keep the snickers to a minimum, please). Oh, and this was all said before Wednesday night when Stanton's bomb buried the Cardinals. (Miami Herald )

WHITHER WORLEY: Vance Worley is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings through two starts for the Phillies. Of course, he's about to have no spot in the rotation once Joe Blanton returns from the disabled list. You can't exactly bump Halladay or Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels or Oswalt. Blanton is firmly entrenched as the fifth starter, too. Philly.com takes a look at why it's OK for Worley to be sent back the minors and where he might fit if the club is inclined to keep him up with the big boys. One thing they didn't mention that I'd like to add is that maybe the Phillies could deal Blanton for a bat at some point? Some team is sure to get desperate for pitching at the trade deadline and the Phillies are going to need offense more than pitching at that point. Worley could slide in as a fine five for now.

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Posted on: February 28, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2011 4:54 pm

The Bryce Harper era is upon us

Bryce HarperPosted by C. Trent Rosecrans

The Bryce Harper era has begun -- wtih of all things, a pinch-running appearance. The 18-year old pinch-ran for Matt Stairs in the fifth inning of the Nationals-Mets exhibition on Monday and stayed in the game as DH, batting fifth.

For the record, Stairs debuted in the big leagues five months before Harper was born.

Harper, the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, is the game's top prospect. Although he's not expected to start the season with the Nationals -- or even play in the majors this season, he'll certainly be the most closely-watched minor leaguer in the Grapefruit League this year.

Now, we're not going to update Harper's every move here, but his first game and his first at-bat seem rather interest-worthy, so I'll update it when he does come up to the plate. And for those of you with the MLB At-Bat app for your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, you can watch the game streaming live.

UPDATE: After Michael Morse went deep to give the Nationals a 7-3 lead, Harper struck out on three pitches against Mets left-hander Taylor Tankersley. Harper fouled off the first pitch he saw before swinging through the next two pitches.

UPDATE: Michael Morse is stealing the show from Haper, homering again against Mets right-hander Ryota Igarashi before Harper came to the plate. Harper, again, struck out. This time on four pitches.

UPDATE: And here's what Harper had to say, via Twitter, about his first big league-ish at-bats:

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Posted on: December 14, 2010 12:10 pm

Stairs signs minor-league deal with Nationals

Matt Stairs Last year at spring training in Arizona, I had dinner with a group of baseball writers and one of them proposed a game.

Can you name all the teams Matt Stairs has played for?

I think I got about seven.

He could get another one, depending on how you set your rules. Stairs, who debuted for the Montreal Expos in 1992, has signed a minor-league deal with the Nationals.

If you count the Nationals and Expos as the same (I don't), it could be his 13th different team, if he makes the squad.

Stairs was a long-shot at 42 last year to make the Padres, but did, appearing in 78 games mostly as a pinch hitter. In 111 plate appearances (in 78 games), he hit .232/.306/.475 with six home runs and 16 RBI. He started 15 games last season, 13 in left field, one in right and one at first base. He would likely serve a similar role with the Nations if he made the team. Stairs will turn 43 on Feb. 27.

As for the trivia question answer: A's, Royals, Phillies, Expos, Blue Jays, Pirates, Red Sox, Rangers, Padres, Cubs, Tigers and Brewers.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: September 23, 2010 10:39 am
Edited on: September 23, 2010 11:26 am

Stairs hoping to play past 2010

Matt Stairs Matt Stairs is looking to extend his career just a bit longer after considering retirement prior to the 2010 season.

Stairs, at the tender age of 42, is currently coming off the bench for the Padres after preparing to retire before San Diego called with an offer. While Stairs has been one of the better power hitters of his generation (and if he had received consistent starting playing time, Bill James contends he could have been a Hall of Famer), 2010 hasn't been kind to the slugger's production.

Hitting just .227, Stairs has been able to couple that with five home runs and 10 walks in 99 plate appearances for a .227.303/.455 mark.

That line could be good enough for teams to go after a veteran pinch hitter, especially one as Stairs whose home run off Jonathan Broxton in the 2008 NLCS still lives on in Philadelphia fame and currently has the most pinch-hit home runs in the history of the game, notching No. 21 on August 21.

Stairs wants to play one or two more years. If he truly wanted to, he would likely find a job battling for a spot in spring training, but it's unlikely he gets anything guaranteed. As long as the DH doesn't exist in the AL, however, Stairs should have no trouble finding NL teams open to giving him a shot.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 15, 2010 6:43 pm

Wright the definition of a journeyman

Jamey Wright Can you imagine what Jamey Wright's closet looks like? How many different-colored duffel bags and warmup jackets he must have?

Mega-journeyman Wright was signed as a free agent by the Mariners on Thursday, and when he makes his first appearance Seattle will officially become his eighth major league team.

It's also his third organization in the past five weeks. Wright, 35, started the season with Cleveland, appearing in eight major league games, before the Indians released him June 10. On June 16, he signed as a minor-league free agent with Oakland, then opted out of that contract to sign with the Mariners. He went to spring training once before with the Mariners and didn't make the team.

His career transactions list looks like Al Capone's rap sheet, but the Oklahoma City native has made a decent living off his vagabond career. According to baseball-reference.com, he's made nearly $12 million. Not bad for going 83-117 with an ERA over 5.

In case you're wondering, the record for most major league teams is 12, shared by four players: Deacon McGuire (1884-1912), Mike Morgan, Ron Villone and Matt Stairs. The title of Ultimate Journeyman has to go to Villone, who made his 12 stops over a span of just 15 seasons. The 40-year-old lefty is in the Nationals' minor-league system, so he still has a chance to set the record (as does Stairs, who is with the Padres).

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 8, 2010 12:03 am

Stairs ties pinch-hit HR record

Matt Stairs Matt Stairs has made history.

On Wednesday, Stairs bombed a home run in the bottom ninth to pull the Padres within one in a game they would eventually lose 7-6.

What's significant about this home run is that it was a pinch-hit blast that tied him with Cliff Johnson for the most pinch-hit home runs in baseball history -- 20.

Stairs has had quite a nomadic career, playing for 12 teams with seven of them being just one year or less. The longest he's stayed in one place is Oakland for five years and that was from 1996 to 2000.

Despite only two seasons of 500 at-bats or more, Stairs has accumulated 260 home runs and a .264/.357/.479 line in 5,089 career at-bats (career statistics prior to Wednesday's game).

One can only imagine what he could have done with a full career -- 500 home runs a virtual certainty.

I'm sure Stairs will take the honor of being one of the game's best pinch-hitters and a 2008 World Series ring as a consolation prize.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
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